One thing my family, friends, and clients can count on with me is that I “keep it real”. So, I preface this blog post with a fair warning to readers, new and seasoned, that this post is going to follow true personal form and is written with the realist intent.
This afternoon was like any other. I picked up my children from each of their schools and along the way home discussed dinner options with the kids. Together, we decided we would make grilled chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner – one of our family’s favorite dishes. Caleb (our 11 year old son) even asked if he could help grill the chicken as he had before. Since the beginning of the year he was grown nearly 4 inches in height, his voice has deepened, and he takes longer showers. It dawned on me early into the spring, around the time of his 11th birthday, that I really needed to begin preparing him with simple life skills because before you know it, he will be ready to leave home for college. It is important to me that he knows how to take care of himself and his home (you’re welcome future daughter-in-law) so as time permits, together we practice simple cooking lessons (grilled chicken being his favorite), laundry, and other housekeeping chores. Tonight, Caleb was going to be in charge of washing the chicken breasts, preparing the marinade, and doing the grilling. Leila Belle (our 4 year old daughter) would set the table, open and wash the vegetables, and help measure the rice. This was going to be a fun evening until…
Our plans were made and we were excited. The thought of dinner made our tummies growl with hunger. I decided to check out a new grocery store on the way home, WinCo that I had heard good things about in a local neighborhood Facebook group. It hasn’t been there for long and since it was located on the way home, I decided to give it a try. Last week they even had medium to large pumpkins on sale for 1 cent! We begin walking up and down the aisles of food picking up the ingredients we need to prepare dinner and I am pleasantly surprised to see Coca-Cola is now selling their Santa Claus cans in cases and I am reminded that Thanksgiving is a mere 3 weeks away. Caleb was behind the cart pushing it along and Leila Belle skipped down the aisles asking me, “what can I get you?” awaiting for my direction on what to place in the cart next. Along one aisle a stranger walks up to me and hands me three coupons for FREE items along with the items. The coupons were for 1 gallon of milk, 1 box of Frosted Flakes cereal, and 1 package of Chips Ahoy! Cookies. She said she was there scouting out people with children to make sure they had these coupons and goodies because she remembered as a child growing up that she hadn’t even had the luxury of having named brand cookies or cereal until she was 17 years old. We all thanked her and pressed on in our shopping mission. This seemed like a good day.
I head up to the registers with my children in tow where they have a race to see who can put the food on the conveyor belt faster. Leila Belle decides she wants to had each item to the cashier to “help her”. Putting an end to this, I send her to the opposite end of the register where she can help Caleb bag the groceries. As I mentioned before, this is our first rodeo at this grocery store so we are learning its nuances as we go along. Bagging our own groceries was one of these nuances. The children enjoyed this because it gave them a few brief minutes to play grocery store while I exchanged pleasantries with the ladies behind me. I hand over the coupons for my free items and my total was tallied. $78.09. I swipe my debit card and an option pops up for Debit or EBT only. (EBT: Electronic Benefit Transfer) something else I learned about during this trip. I select debit and type in my PIN code into the keypad. Transaction Declined. The cashier says, “oh no, it says the transaction was declined”. To which I immediately assume I typed in the incorrect PIN. I swipe the card again, carefully read all of the options that pop on the screen and slowly type in my PIN code. This time the cashier whispers, “it says insufficient funds”. I tilted my head quickly like Scooby-Do and looked for a quick solution. My hands began to fumble quickly, my heart began to race, and my face felt all tingly. I pull out a credit card. I attempt to swipe it and realize there was no option for credit cards. The cashier explains they do not accept credit cards. I stood there and stared at her dumbfounded and inside my head, screamed the longest F-word ever. Like epic. Like, the kind you would scream if you stepped on a Lego and fell off a cliff all the while your expletive fades off into the depths.
I snap back into the issue at hand. Surely, I had not been this irresponsible with my debit card. Not say I had never been caught in this situation before, however, once you experience this kind of conundrum, you do your best not not allow it to happen again. I grew up with an extremely humble beginning. I remember what it was like to go without very basic things, eat surprise casseroles made with what ever ingredients my mom had in her pantry, and accept generosity from others when there was no other way. This moment zapped me back in time and I was humbled and felt so embarrassed in front of my children. I asked the cashier if she could suspend my transaction until I could figure out what was going on with the card. Did I forget a payment was going to be deducted that I didn’t balance into my account? What the heck? I hopped on my cell phone to my bank app and I proved to myself there were definitely funds available. Still unsure, I got back in the line with my groceries to attempt to run the card again. Declined. I asked the cashier if she could hold my groceries for me as I went to the ATM. Maybe something was up with the store’s merchant machine or something. I clerk came up and hauled my groceries away as though this was a routine event. I walked up to their in store ATM. Transaction Declined. By this time, Leila Belle is crying and asking, “where’s our food mommy?”. Now I am done. I don’t understand, I am humiliated, and it is killing me to see my daughter so distraught over something I couldn’t explain. All I want to do at this point was run and then I remembered something.
A month ago, I received a new debit card in the mail, which has a microchip on the front of it. I tossed it in my “to do” pile and hadn’t thought twice about it until last night when I cleaned my office desk and came across it again. I remember thinking when I opened the envelope to my new card, “a new debit card? Sheesh”. Ever since the hacking debacle a couple of years ago during the holiday shopping season at Target, I feel like I have received at least three new debit cards from my bank. It’s to the point that it is flat out annoying to have to reactivate and update all of the business payment profiles that use said debit card. Assuming this time was like every other time, I presumed since my existing debit card did not expire until 2017 and I had not activated my new debit card yet, I could still continue to use it. Wrong assumption. Evidently, my debit card was automatically deactivated by my bank the day before and I had no idea. I dragged my daughter to the car, who by now, was drawing attention. I buckle her into her car seat and race home. I find my new card, activate it, and head back to the grocery store. I head to customer service, they find my cart, and I am successfully able to pay for my groceries with my new card and new PIN code. I explain what the issue was to a different cashier and it was if my explanation fell on deaf ears. They were probably thinking, “yeah, yeah, lady, whatever”. Whatever is right, I got my groceries and hightailed it out of there. Thank you,Target and other previous unsecured merchants for sparking fraud protection overkill with the banks.
A few important lessons I was reminded of here:
1. When God fills its necessary, he will serve you up a big fat platter of humble pie until you regain perspective and remember to thank Him daily for EVERYTHING.
2. It is important to teach with your children to value the opportunities you afford them and never stop reminding them of your personal beginnings (unless you’re like and heiress or something). Most importantly, never stop thanking your parents for their struggle. You would never be where you are today if they had not done some of the things that had to do to “get by”, to support you ensure your success. Return this appreciation by making them proud with your accomplishments.
3. Give with a thankful heart. If there is someone in need and you have the means to offer to provide for them, do it – without hesitation or expectation of receiving a return. Don’t ask them if they need something. Don’t offer. Just do it. You never know how much your generosity can mean to someone who truly needs it, but may be too prideful to ask.
Have you experienced a similar situation where you were brought to your knees and humbled before? I would love to hear about it. Please comment below and share your story with me!
Reaj Roberts is a fabulous thirty something, wife, stay at home mother, and boss babe photographer located in Chandler, Arizona. She serves up daily realness on her Facebook page and Instagram accounts without shame. Holla!